How two of prog’s finest foreign exponents got road life in the UK underway this week…
Day one and it’s a rain lashed Talking Heads in Southampton which greets both bands. The fans in the venue’s small bar get a rare treat as Moon Safari singer and birthday boy Petter Sandstrom with acoustic guitar gives an impromptu show as he buys his celebratory ale.
Over 80 people brave the tour’s first night and sing happy birthday to Petter who launches in a self-penned song about how he hates being 33.
There are more than a few Moon Safari and Lazuli tee-shirts on show this evening and both bands are totally on fire, Moon Safari tight and melodic, the harmonies as mellifluous as ever, Lazuli getting right into their groove and it’s apparent they are all great gigglers as well as fine musicians. It is getting close to midnight as they end with their signature Nine Hands Around A Marimba. Lazuli brothers Domi and Claude Lenetti are also overjoyed to find that one of the audience, French lady Prog magazine reader Catherine Brun knows their old music teacher. A photograph is duly taken to send to “teach” back home.
Thursday morning and it’s breakfast at Sainsbury’s rather than Tiffany’s. Elderly early morning shoppers at the usually sedate Lords Hill superstore in Southampton stifle sharp intakes of breath as chief cat herder Nellie Pitts leads a posse of exotically braided and bearded personages through the shop and into le café followed shortly afterwards by the very tall Scandanavian Moon Safari.
A nice smiley lady taking breakfast orders senses they must be in rock groups so asks for them all to sign autographs for her daughter who is still probably none the wiser as to who they all are even though she listens only to rock music.
There’s a change of plan as they all decide they want to be tourists. So after yours truly brings the car park to a standstill by leading the convoy out the entrance rather than the exit (it would be the right way in France), we are all headed for Stonehenge.
However, there’s a real Spinal Tap moment on arrival when it dawns on the party that then new park and ride system is not conducive to a quick run around the old stones and out again like it used to be. Instead, they have to make do with two runs up and down the ever congested A303 to get a small whiff of the majesty of England’s finest ancient site.
After separate journeys across the wilds of Wiltshire and Somerset both bands get to Cardiff’s Globe on time. There’s a fair turn-out in the venue including Huw Lloyd-Jones (Unto Us) who, as organiser of Summer’s End, first introduced us to Lazuli in 2011.
Again, Moon Safari are polished and the acoustics in the venue really beef up their sweet sounds. Lazuli, however, are dogged by technical problems as the bass parts on Romain Thorel’s keyboard goes kaput and Claude Leonetti’s unique Léode threatens to go the same way. So guitarist Ged Byar launches into an impromptu Voodoo Chile with drummer Vincent Barnavol accompanying. Oh yes, the boy can play. The charm offensive works and all problems are quickly forgotten.
Day three and there’s another riotous breakfast when a very forward Welsh waitress offers Claude a choice of poached, fried or scrambled egg with his English breakfast to be greeted by a Gallic shrug.
All hit the road to Manchester and arrive to find the accommodation tonight is at a religious institute. There will be a few prayers being said in the Lazuli camp that the pesky bass holds up tonight at the Sound Control.